- Fecal Incontinence
|Methanogen Levels Are Significantly Associated with Fecal Microbiota Composition and Alpha Diversity in Healthy Adults and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients
Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Dec 21;10(6):e0165322. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01653-22.Epub 2022 Nov 2.
1Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
2Division of Human Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
3Wageningen Food and Biobased Research, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
4Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Hospital Gelderse Vallei, Ede, the Netherlands.
5Cell Biology and Immunology, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Hydrogenotrophic microbes, primarily including the three functional groups methanogens, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and reductive acetogens, use hydrogen as an energy source and play an important role in maintaining the hydrogen balance in gut ecosystems. A distorted hydrogen balance has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, the role of hydrogenotrophic microbes in overall microbiota composition and function remains largely unknown. This study aims to assess the distribution and stability of hydrogenotrophic functional groups in healthy adults (HAs) and IBS patients and their association with overall microbiota composition and IBS symptoms. A two-time-point study with 4 weeks in between was performed with 27 HAs and 55 IBS patients included. Our observations revealed that methanogens showed a bimodal distribution across samples. A high-level methanogen microbiota was consistently associated with higher alpha diversity, and its composition was significantly different from that of individuals with a low-level methanogen microbiota. In general, these associations were more pronounced in IBS patients than in HAs. The differences in the copy numbers of genes indicative of total bacteria and acetogens between HAs and IBS patients and their correlations with IBS symptom severity, anxiety, depression, and quality of life (QoL) were sampling time dependent. Hydrogenotrophic functional groups did not show negative abundance correlations with each other in HAs and IBS patients. These findings suggest that methanogen levels in the gut have a pronounced association with microbiota alpha diversity and composition, and the interactions between hydrogenotrophic functional groups are complex in gut ecosystems. IMPORTANCEHydrogenotrophic microbes play an essential role in the disposal of hydrogen and the maintenance of the hydrogen balance in gut ecosystems. Their abundances vary between individuals and have been reported to be associated with human gut disorders such as irritable bowel disease. This study confirms that methanogen levels show a bimodal distribution. Moreover, a high-level methanogen microbiota was associated with higher alpha diversity, and its composition was different from that of individuals with a low-level methanogen microbiota. These associations are more pronounced in IBS patients than in healthy subjects. In addition, associations between hydrogenotrophic microbes and IBS symptom scores vary over time, which argues for the use of longitudinal study designs. Last but not least, this study suggests that the different hydrogenotrophic microbes coexist with each other and do not necessarily compete for hydrogen in the gut. The findings in this study highlight the impact of methanogens on overall microbiota composition and function.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03720314.